LinkedIn is the world’s largest platform for professional with over 722 million members in more than 200 countries worldwide (LinkedIn, 2020). LinkedIn has significantly transformed the way people apply for jobs and receive economic and network opportunity and communicate with professionals and colleagues in their industry. The basic membership level of LinkedIn is open to people that have access to internet. In addition to mid-career and senior professionals, LinkedIn also serves as a useful platform for recent graduate students, who are looking for internships and their first positions out of university.
In this essay, I argue that LinkedIn has transformed recruitment and the professional networking culture around the world, I also discuss how LinkedIn has helped fresh university graduates to build an early career through online professional profiles and networking. However, it can be of a disadvantage to those students that lack job seeking insights, have less work experience and fewer suitable networks to navigate work (Pope, J., Owen, J. 2014). I will start with the background and growth of LinkedIn, its services and then move to its transformative impact through an economic, political and social view in the context of digital technology.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn allows users to create a profile and to build a network to directly communicate with their employers or people in their industry (Florenthal, 2015).
A LinkedIn user profile often includes a profile picture, a heading, an ‘About’ section, an ‘Experience’ section, ‘Skills and Endorsements’, ‘Recommendations’, ‘Accomplishments’ and ‘Interests’. Users on LinkedIn can search for job opportunities and apply through the platform. Users are able to message and network with industry and recruiters. Users connect with people they know and/or work with and encouraged to provide recommendations and endorse other people’s skills to create a supportive online environment. On LinkedIn’s feed (see image above), users can congratulate their connections for recent positions as well as react and comment on posts.
The history of LinkedIn and where it’s led us to today
Before LinkedIn became the standard way to build professional networks (Peterson, M. 2014), there was a vast historical timeline as to how Western Civilization experienced job searching. In 1851 – 1999, people used to apply for jobs in newspapers. More recently, people used platforms such as Seek and Indeed. On Seek and Indeed there is no individual profile, but rather people apply for job openings by attaching their resume and cover letter.
The 2015 recruiting report by The Leading Enterprise Recruitment Platform (iCIMS) states:
“Finding the right talent continues to be one of the most urgent issues for companies, and the disruptive force of technology has transformed the way people look for jobs and how employers hire” (Morgan, H. 2016)
LinkedIn was founded in 2002 by Reid Hoffman and launched in 2003. (LinkedIn, 2020).
In 2005, subscription offerings were implemented, giving users an option to purchase Pro and Premium Plus. (MarketLine, 2017).
In 2008, LinkedIn launched a Spanish and French version of the LinkedIn website (MarketLine, 2017). Today, LinkedIn is available in 24 languages This enables a wider market to access LinkedIn and made employment opportunities more accessible on a global scale.
In 2016, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $35 billion dollars, bringing together the world’s leading professional cloud and professional network (LinkedIn, 2020). During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was expected to leave 140 million people out of work and another 1.6 billion at risk of income loss. Microsoft and LinkedIn launched an initiative to help 25 million people acquire the digital skills during their time being unemployed.
LinkedIn holds five values; transformation, integrity, collaboration, humour and results. In particular, transformation shows that LinkedIn is resilient to change and will meld to meet the changing needs in Australia’s future job context. This video shows how much of an impact LinkedIn has had on people’s working lives to provide a safe and professional networking community:
University students utilising LinkedIn
Why is it important to look at students in Australia and the challenges they may face in navigating employment opportunities after university? One reason is because young Australians are the employers, leaders and changemakers of the future. They’re the people who will tackle the unprecedented economic, social and cultural challenges that lie ahead (Pope, J., Owen, J. 2014). Secondly, young people are predicted to have 17 different jobs over five careers in their lifetime. We need to ensure that LinkedIn is designed to meet the needs of these generations and the future of work.
What will the future of work look like? By 2030, all jobs across all sectors are going to look different. Globalisation sees the Australian economy shift from production towards knowledge and service-based economy (Pope, J. Owen, J. 2014). Additionally, there is evidence to suggest our education system is not preparing our young people for the new world of work. On average, it takes 2.6 years to find a full time job in the area a graduate has studied.
Sharing our personal lives online – what’s the danger?
Recruiters may search beyond LinkedIn accounts. They can search for people’s Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter. These online platforms come with a sense of trust in our online community and, community and trust are important values for the sharing economy. (John, N. 2018). The rise of sharing on social media is because the internet is democratic, open and free, and as a platform for non-hierarchical communication. (John, N. 2018) However, a study by social sciences and legal researchers at The University of Sydney examines the privacy and the rights and responsibility of platform stakeholders. The research found that a majority of Australians, i.e. 61%, don’t feel in control of their privacy online, even though 67% of these participants are taking active steps to control their privacy (Goggin, G. et al. 2017).
The transformative impacts of LinkedIn
LinkedIn receives revenue from three main streams; that is talent solutions, marketing solutions and premium subscriptions (MarketLine SWOT, 2017). With the addition of premium platforms, organisations must take care to ensure fairness when emphasising online recruitment (Moore, S. 2019).
LinkedIn’s Economic Graph identifies the ten jobs that are in demand in economy and positioned to grow in the future. For students, this is beneficial to see how strong the demands are for technology driven jobs and how they can be using their time efficiently to prepare for the industry they’re heading towards.
The world is experiencing a fundamental transformation in the way people work, play and participate in political life (Goggin, G. et al. 2017). In 2018, the Government allowed foreign workers to be brought in on the 457-style visa. Foreigners are able to be hired on the 457 visa only if employers tried to hire Australians first on LinkedIn. In this sense, Facebook, Instagram and Gumtree were not acceptable for recruiters to review as LinkedIn became the gold standard.
‘Internet Governance’ raises an issue of limited freedom on the internet to express our opinions and personal lives on our personal social media accounts. In the research conducted by The University of Sydney, they found that 57% of Australians were concerned about their privacy being violated by corporations and 47% were also concerned about privacy violations by Government. (Goggin, G. et al. 2017). According to Pesce, Governments recording the public interactions of their citizens – that is what they read, post and share and how they interact —to build profiles is not uncommon. The Australian Government uses metadata and machine learning techniques to improve the accuracy of people’s profiles and keep the Government inundated with our data (Pesce, M. 2017).
At LinkedIn, social values are at the forefront of their company, just as their motto ‘Relationships Matter’ suggests. LinkedIn makes it easy for users to extend their social networks and increase their social capital (Utz, S. 2016). It reflects how much the team at LinkedIn care for their users and their needs as they state:
‘We believe in inclusion, and we want you to know that whatever your goals, ideas and abilities are, we’re here to help you succeed.’
Accessibility is an important value because employers want to find a workplace that’s truly diverse and welcoming, no matter what their story is. Multigenerational workforce, that is having several generations working together, are becoming increasingly common. According to LinkedIn, 89% of hiring professionals say a multigenerational workforce makes a company more successful. This is because each generation has different strengths and behaviours which interweave with one another to make it a dynamic working environment. Younger generations are more likely to possess skills on the computer whereas older generations are stronger at leadership and various soft skills. This demonstrates the importance for graduates to understand the logistics of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Learning allows people to access learning courses and programs at no additional cost to support transferable skills and knowledge in their industry. There are currently 16,000 free and paid courses, with topics such as ‘Learn within 30 minutes’, ‘Speaking Up At Work’ and ‘Basic Python’. LinkedIn also releases 60+ courses each week to keep courses up to date.
Should universities teach students how to use LinkedIn?
With evidence to suggest our education system is not preparing young people for the future of work, I believe we should be taught how to use LinkedIn. Doing so will prepare students for a streamlined transition from university to work; if they wish. By building a LinkedIn profile, you are able to share to recruiters who you are and what you stand for. Benefits for students using LinkedIn include maintaining interpersonal connectivity, self-discovery, and social enhancement (Reiza, P. et al. 2018).
As recruiters may look at social media accounts beyond LinkedIn such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; it’s also important to learn how to manage reputation online. For job seekers, it can be beneficial to know how to search for jobs beyond LinkedIn.
“There are a lot of different ways that you can use social media in your job search: for example, researching companies; researching company culture; researching hiring managers inside that company; researching people you know who can introduce you to the hiring managers inside that company.” (Morgan, H. 2016)
Conclusion and reflection
LinkedIn has made the way we seek and apply for jobs much more efficient and impactful. I am currently searching for an internship and have found LinkedIn a fantastic place to search and receive real time notifications for when internships in my field open. I have connected with professionals within my industry after Design presentations or workshops. I feel inspired when looking through their work experiences and posts and message them for any career advice. For students, LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to leverage your chances of receiving a job in an industry you’re passionate about.
In conclusion, LinkedIn has transformed the way people apply for jobs; in an economic, political and social view; to receive economic and network opportunity. It has benefited students across the globe to access and apply for jobs after their university studies, whilst equipping them with learning opportunities to prepare for the workforce.
Word count: 1875
Florenthal, B. (2015). “Applying uses and gratifications theory to students’ LinkedIn usage.” Young Consumers 16(1): 17-35.
Goggin, G., Vromen, A., Weatherall, K., Martin, F., Webb, A., Sunman, L., Bailo, F. (2017). What are they and why do they matter now? In Digital Rights in Australia. Sydney: University of Sydney.
John, N. A. (2018). Sharing Economies. In The age of sharing (pp. 69–97). Polity.
Linked In: About Us (2020). Retrieved from: https://news.linkedin.com/about-us
Marketline. (2017) “LinkedIn Corporation SWOT Analysis.” LinkedIn Corporation SWOT Analysis.
Marketline. (2017) “LinkedIn Corporation MarketLine Company Profile.” LinkedIn Corporation MarketLine Company Profile.
Moore, S. E. (2019). “The Language of LinkedIn: Popular Publications, the Gender Gap, and Pedagogy.” Business and Professional Communication Quarterly 82(4): 401-417.
Morgan, H. (2016). “How Social Recruiting Impacts Job Search.” Career Planning and Adult Development Journal 32(2): 33-38.
Pesce, Mark (2017) The Last Days of Reality. Meanjin. Summer 2017. https://meanjin.com.au/essays/the-last-days-of-reality/
Peterson, R. M. and H. F. Dover (2014). “Building Student Networks with LinkedIn: The Potential for Connections, Internships, and Jobs.” Marketing education review 24(1): 15-20.
Pope, J. and J. Owen (2014). “A vision for young Australians in the 21st century.” Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal(40): 22-31.
Reiza Bani, P. and H. Arga (2018). “The Uses and Gratifications Theory, Subjective Norm, and Gender in Influencing Students’ Continuance Participation Intention in LinkedIn.” Binus business review 9(3): 207-217.
Utz, S. (2016). “Is LinkedIn making you more successful? The informational benefits derived from public social media.” New Media & Society 18(11): 2685-2702.
Inlytics. (2020). Retrieved from: https://unsplash.com/photos/Z7MNWch3LPs
Screenshot of LinkedIn feed from https://www.linkedin.com/feed/ – Ramona Codd-Miller
LinkedIn; Social Impact (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://socialimpact.linkedin.com/
LinkedIn Partners (2020). Retrieved from https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/ats-partners#apply
LinkedIn Australia – Take your Next Step. (2020) Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=BmtPtE1Ptw8&feature=emb_title